Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will test free agency to the surprise of, well, no one. The 31-year-old opted out of his contract prior to Saturday's deadline, leaving two years and $47.5 million on the table as he pursues a more lucrative deal in free agency. The Mets are expected to extend the $17.2 million qualifying offer, which will give them a compensatory draft pick in the event that Cespedes signs elsewhere during the offseason.
James Wagner of the New York Times believes that the outfielder’s staggering numbers in 2016 will garner offers as high as $100 million, while Mike Puma of the New York Post has tabbed the Nationals, Giants, and Blue Jays as potential suitors outside of New York. The Nationals proposed a five-year, $110 million deal to Cespedes prior to the 2016 season, but should they successfully woo him with another such contract, Puma points out that the outfielder’s arrival could complicate matters in Dusty Baker’s outfield with Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth already comfortably stationed in the corners.
There’s never been a better time for Cespedes to test the waters of free agency. His 5.3 WARP made 2016 his most valuable season to date. He clocked in with a .326 TAv in 543 plate appearances, his highest mark in a full season’s worth of games, and his home runs (31) and walks (51) spiked to career-best levels as well. Back in August, the 31-year-old reassured the press that he intended to stay with the Mets for the remainder of his major league career, and was quoted by Newsday’s David Lennon thusly:
“My intentions of course are to be here for three years, and if I could spend the rest of my career with the Mets I would.”
While a return to New York is not out of the question, it could cost the Mets more years at a heftier price than GM Sandy Alderson is willing to expend.
Former Royals closer Greg Holland is on the mend after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015, and will make his first outing of the year in front of a plethora of scouts and executives Monday in Phoenix, Arizona. The showcase converges with the annual general managers meeting in nearby Scottsdale, and has reportedly drawn the attention of the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Giants, and Royals so far. Rustin
Dodd of the Kansas City Star explained that general manager Dayton Moore was understandably tight-lipped about the team’s interest in their former closer, but cited the right-hander’s “toughness and competitive spirit” as direct influences on the Royals’ prior success.
Holland bulldozed his way through the American League in 2013 and 2014, posting respective DRAs of 1.79 and 1.85 and devastating hitters with slider so unhittable that it helped generate a career-best 13.8 K/9 rate. Holland’s stuff went into sharp decline in 2015 as he played through a torn UCL, finishing the year with an inflated 3.83 DRA and career-worst 5.2 BB/9 and 9.9 K/9 marks in 44 2/3 innings.
The 31-year-old doesn’t expect to command the astronomical figures due fellow closers Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, and Mark Melancon, but the potential for greatness still lurks underneath nagging questions about his health. If he continues to flash the nasty movement on his slider that drew the Royals to him in the first place, he’ll stand a decent chance of seeing another closing role in 2017.
The Royals have reportedly initiated extension talks with left-hander Danny Duffy’s representatives, according to MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. The 28-year-old will still undergo another cycle of arbitration, which MLB Trade Rumors projects at $8.2 million after the starter garnered approximately $4.2 million over the 2016 season. He’s not due to his free agency until 2017, which puts the club in a favorable position if they want to lock him down in a multi-year deal.
It’s impossible to ignore Duffy’s impact on the team during the 2016 season. The lefty switched from long relief to a starting role, where he contributed a career-best 3.8 WARP and 3.46 DRA over 26 starts and 179 2/3 innings. Despite succumbing to the league-wide spike in home runs, the rest of Duffy’s peripherals improved with a 2.1 BB/9 and 9.4 K/9 rate, due in no small part to an uptick in his fastball velocity.
Any contract negotiations have been strictly preliminary so far, and Moore refused to make any statements regarding the extension, saying only that he wanted to retain the Royals’ young core when possible. Duffy also appears to be interested in a deal that would keep him in Kansas City on a long-term basis. Retaining their ace beyond 2017 may require a bigger commitment than Moore is currently prepared to make, however, especially with several hefty contracts still on the books. Should Duffy continue to turn out front-of-the-rotation numbers, the Royals will face stiff competition for the left-hander when he becomes eligible for free agency in the near future.